The Sunday Spin, Episode 8: “Rivers and Roads”
The Self-Titled Debut Album by The Head and the Heart
For context, this week’s Spin is coming directly from the passenger seat of a sports utility vehicle. I’m sitting next to Donny, my childhood buddy, as we roam the Pacific Northwest…
This trek marks an almost four-year anniversary since we first made the journey to Portland, Oregon, catching an impromptu firework display and an energetic performance by a French Electronic-Pop duo called Stereo Total. The trip could not have come at a better time! Scheduled right after my USMLE Step 1 Exam, it was the fun and regenerative excursion I needed. Not only was the trip memorable, but it also generated a fervor for travel deep within my bones.
Prior to our adventure, my vacations had consisted of study binges and family road-trips laden with crisis. By the time I reached college, I would avoid breaks like the plague. I became intimately acquainted with the 24-hour reading room at Shields’ Library, getting “Lost In My Mind” instead of enjoying life…
Don’t get me wrong, I love studying as much as the next “type A” personality, but there comes a point when your productivity tanks and work becomes futile.
How do you avoid this diminishing margin of return and inevitable “burnout?”
Well, you can do what I did and push through it, spiraling further into exhaustion o Or, you can capitalize upon my mistakes and heed this simple advice: “Take time for yourself.”
At face value, this seems easy! Of course, I’m going to take care of myself, sleep well, eat right, and exercise… Sure! Let me know how that’s working for you. If you are anything like me (heaven forbid), you find it hard to put yourself before the books and before others. Sadly, as medical professionals, we are faced with endless tasks and demands. And until you learn to let go, you are going to drown in the workload.
Unfortunately, I learned this sad truth rather late in my “academic career”…
I know. It feels selfish to go on an enjoyable vacation or even to take the time to exercise or go shopping instead of studying. Don’t be plexin’ (worrying) because here’s a dirty little secret: unless you skip studying and working altogether, you’re probably going to do just fine!
I’m sure what I am saying is nothing new, we are reminded frequently by our mentors to “Stop and smell the roses.” However, an extra reminder doesn’t hurt…
You have to be proactive about your health and vacations, otherwise “burnout” will creep in like mold on that loaf of sourdough bread sitting on my counter, which my roommate and I are passively avoiding throwing out (little does he know, I once kept a tortilla so long that it looked more like an avocado than compressed flour by the end).
So, get out there and have some fun! Especially those of you on the cusp of taking your USMLE Examinations!
Here is some tune-age to accompany your adventures, courtesy of The Head and the Heart.
Forged in Seattle, Washington, The Head and the Heart was a conglomeration of transplants that met via local open mic nights. Their songs were simple. Filled with beautiful harmonies tied together by an acoustic guitar, garnished with the tinkling of ivories or swells of violin strings. They cultivated a rustic tone that could only be harvested in the Pacific Northwest or the “Drrrty South.”
The Head and the Heart was quickly be signed to Sub Pop Records after producing the single “Down In The Valley“ in 2009. The band promoted themselves by selling burned copies of “Down in the Vally” wrapped in a homemade denim sleeve (much classier than Alice Cooper’s album, School’s Out for Summer, which featured an inner sleeve shaped like panties). Demand for the denim adorned discs outgrew the supply, as The Head and the Heart opened for bands such as Vampire Weekend, Death Cab for Cutie, My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, and Iron and Wine. And the band would complete their album and release it in 2011.
The Head and the Heart’s debut self-titled album is a masterpiece with songs craftily sewn together, opening brightly with “Cats and Dogs” which abruptly morphs into “Couer d’Alene.” The ebb and flow of energy within this album is incredible. The melodic drone of “Down in the Valley,” “Rivers and Roads,” and “Heaven Go Easy on Me” juxtapose nicely with pulsating breakdowns that get your toes tappin’ and hands clappin’.
Specifically, “Rivers and Roads” invokes an element of nostalgia that brings me back to medical school. I can’t help but think of my classmates and ponder how they are doing at their respective residencies scattered across the United States. My favorite single off the album has to be “Lost in My Mind,” a jubilant song of encouragement, reminding us to care for our brethren. An important message, needed now more than ever!
Whether it be raining “Cats and Dogs,” snowing “Down in the Valley,” or sunny along your “Rivers and Roads,” get out there and explore!